Sri Lankan soldiers ‘raid’ main protest site in Colombo
Posted on July 21st, 2022

Courtesy TRTWORLD

Hundreds of Sri Lankan soldiers and police swoop in on unarmed activists blocking Presidential Secretariat in the capital after new President Ranil Wickremesinghe is sworn in, according to AFP.

Several activists were seized by troops who smashed tents set up along the main road leading to the presidential office.
Several activists were seized by troops who smashed tents set up along the main road leading to the presidential office. (AP)

Hundreds of Sri Lankan soldiers and police have raided the main anti-government protest camp in the country’s capital and started tearing down tents of unarmed activists, the AFP news agency said.

Security forces swooped in on the protesters blocking the Presidential Secretariat in the capital early on Friday before they were due to vacate the area.

Security personnel armed with batons began removing barricades set up by protesters blocking the main gate of the secretariat they had partly overrun earlier this month.

Activists had announced that they planned to vacate the area by Friday afternoon after a cabinet was sworn in by new the president, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Witnesses saw soldiers surrounding the sea-front office and removing several temporary structures set up in the area to provide logistics for thousands of anti-government protesters since April.

READ MORE: Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Sri Lanka president amid crisis

‘No room for troublemakers’

Security forces used loud hailers asking a few hundred protesters to pull back and confine themselves to a designated area near the secretariat.

Several activists were seized by troops who smashed tents set up along the main road leading to the presidential office.

Supporters of the #Go HomeGota campaign pressing president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down had taken over the area after capturing Rajapaksa’s palace on July 9, forcing him to flee and eventually resign.

After Rajapaksa stepped down, prime minister Wickremesinghe took over the leadership temporarily until he was confirmed as the new president in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe, perceived by some protesters as a Rajapaksa surrogate, has vowed tough action against the protesters and warned that occupying state buildings were illegal and that they would be evicted unless they left on their own.

He had also made a distinction between peaceful protesters and “rioters” and said there will be no room for troublemakers.

READ MORE: For ordinary Sri Lankans every day is a battle

Source: AFP

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